How to treat a girl, named Alexa?

Alexa is a sentimental, talkative girl who enjoys analyzing you, word for word. Besides being a great listener, she’s also great at expressing her emotions.

Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant, designed to compete with upcoming AI products such as Apple’s Siri and Google Now. The popularity of Alexa is largely due to its distinctive Amazon Echo black cylinder, which functions as a smart hub to communicate with Alexa. The quasi-perfect system is constantly improving, because it is cloud based. At Oxyma, we chose to apply Alexa’s “particular set of skills” to analyze the environment for auras and represent these. Based on your emotions, Alexa chooses the right color setting for the room. Now, more importantly, how do you communicate with Alexa?

  1. First of all, you state the lady’s name when you want to get somewhere. Say Alexa and a blue light will show, meaning she’s all ears.
  2. Say: “Open Sentiment”. Don’t wait too long, she’s quite impatient.
  3. She’s very particular with her words. Say “Analyze + instruction”, where instruction is an English subject of your choosing. Try: “Analyze I love my job”. The blue light starts spinning, meaning she’s thinking about what you think about your job and how she can formulate a witty response.
  4. Subsequently, she’ll answer: “You have a positive sentiment with a subjectivity of 95%” and all the lights in our building will instantly turn green! The soothing green color will match your current emotional state, making you feel relaxed or nauseous. Should you be in a grumpy mood, then Alexa is kind enough to turn all lights to red, maybe even shut them down?
  5. If there have been enough emotions spilt, then you can say Exit to turn off Alexa. Just like that, peace and quiet.

Alexa is multi-lingual, she even understands some Dutch! Unfortunately, she has only mastered the elementary level (A2). Another fun-ish fact is Alexa’s sense of humor. By saying:Alexa, tell a joke, she will try her best to give you a good laugh. If she’s on a roll and won’t stop talking, then the magic wordsAlexa Stop! can save her from preaching to the choir. Something that is most likely not appreciated back home.

But how does it work? (Technical!)

Alexa is the speech assistant of Amazon, which is connected to her parent company through huge Amazon servers. Alexa can only hear and speak, she’s not payed to think. She understands commands by sending these to the large server, which can be regarded to as Alexa’s “brain”. Your commands are acknowledged by Alexa and interpreted by the Amazon servers. Once interpreted, the large Amazon servers send the information to an endpoint, such as a server in your office. For this purpose, the brainiacs at Oxyma have created a Unix server running Phusion Passenger en Nginx, which enables compatibility for Node.js/Python scripts. Now that we can run scripts, the world is our oyster! Next step, analyzing the sentiment.

How do we get from estimating your sentiment to changing the color of the lightbulbs? First of all, the user sends Alexa a command stating which program must be started. In our example above, this is done by stating a keyword followed by the program name. Alexa hears Open sentiment and turns it into a string which, in turn, is sent to the Amazon servers. The Amazon servers recognize the keyword Open and read the string as Keyword sentiment, meaning that the sentiment program should be opened. Now the program is called by the large Amazon server and the Python scripts on the endpoint server are started. The second string Analyze I love my job is also sent to the endpoint server. In this case, analyze is a keyword stating “anything after this word is what the user wants analyzed”. Therefore “I love my job” is the part sent to the Unix server, the endpoint at your company, as the subject of the analysis.

Afterwards, the Python script on the endpoint server analyses the sentiment value of “I love my job”. The analysis returns whether the subject was positive/negative and a percentage for the subjectivity of the string. Lastly, the results are sent to smart Philips HUE lights via the HUE Bridge. These lights can change their color for every instruction. Each sentiment triggers a different link on the IFTTT (IF This Then That) website. A link on IFTTT is a trigger connected to the HUE Bridge, which turns the lights to a specific color.

Amazing! You made it! That was a lot of technical stuff..

Entertain or annoy your coworkers by testing out some custom themes, try saying: Analyze Christmas or Analyze home.

Return to normal

Should you want to reset the lights in the lounge, then turn them off/on or say Alexa open sentiment followed by resetor back to normal
Read more about our Alexa inventions in a previous blog. Whether you need emotional lights, cooking tips or just some plaine ‘ol company, Alexa is the girl you want!

Has this story inspired and/or enthused you to do more with Alexa? Contact Remco de Bruijn, Marketing Data Analyst, for more information: or +31102707925.

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